No one can say Paige VanZant isn't tough, but the 21-year-old took a crazy beating from Rose Namajunas en route to a fifth-round submission defeat. The two women put on an excellent show in the main event at UFC Fight Night 80 in Las Vegas.
Namajunas was flat-out better in every aspect of the sport. Per UFC.com, Namajunas landed 57 significant strikes to just 10 for VanZant. While she was able to do some damage on her feet, the real dominance was shown on the ground.
Namajunas landed eight takedowns and spent 16:33 in top control. On several occasions, it looked as if she would submit VanZant. However, the latter proved herself to be more than a pretty face.
She fought off two rear-naked choke attempts and a couple of armbars that looked to be secure. Still, the battered and bloodied VanZant made it into the fifth round.
Finally, Namajunas was able to finish VanZant when she took her back once again in the final round. After the fight, Namajunas was more interested in talking about her dog than anything else.
Ariel Helwani of Fox Sports has the quote:
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Namajunas: I feel great. I don't know what to say. I just want to pet my dog right now.2015-12-11 05:07:50
MMAJunkie.com's Brent Brookhouse accurately summed up the fallout from this exciting bout:
Brent Brookhouse @brentbrookhouse
Both proved something. It may not have been what Paige wanted, but I think she won some people over. But Rose looked outstanding2015-12-11 05:07:24
Namajunas looks ready to challenge UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, though it's unclear if she'll be able to take the champion down with the same regularity that she planted VanZant on her back.
VanZant obviously has some things to work on. She has heart, but her technique was sloppy all night, and she was lost when she couldn't bully Namajunas on the cage.
Chiesa with Style
In a battle of two of the UFC's best submission fighters, Michael Chiesa proved to be superior to Jim Miller. Chiesa dazed the veteran with strikes from top position before transitioning to a rear-naked choke to secure the victory.
Per UFC.com, Chiesa landed 13 significant strikes to Miller's seven. Because both men came in with such celebrated grappling skills, one might have thought the fight would be decided in the stand-up.
The ground games didn't cancel each other out, as Chiesa proved to be the superior fighter on the mat. When the fight was over, per the UFC Fight Pass broadcast, Chiesa called out anyone in the Top 15, but he specifically named Beneil Dariush.
UFC announcer Brian Stann said: "Sign me up for that one."
Many MMA fans would echo Stann's sentiments as both Chiesa and Dariush have proven to be among the best young fighters in the promotion.
Here's a look at all of the results from Vegas.
|Fight Pass Prelims|
|Kailin Curran vs. Emily Kagan||Strawweight||Curran by submission (rear-naked choke, second round)|
|Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Phillipe Nover||Featherweight||Tukhugov by split decision (30-27x2, 28-29)|
|Danny Roberts vs. Nathan Coy||Welterweight||Roberts by technical submission (triangle choke, first round)|
|Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Andreas Stahl||Welterweight||Ponzinibbio by TKO (first round)|
|Aljamain Sterling vs. Johnny Eduardo||Bantamweight||Sterling by submission (guillotine, second round)|
|Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Kevin Casey||Middleweight||No-Contest (accidental eye poke)|
|Omari Akhmedov vs. Sergio Moraes||Welterweight||Moraes by TKO (third round)|
|Tim Means vs. John Howard||Welterweight||Means by KO (second round)|
|Fight Pass Main Card|
|Elias Theodorou vs. Thiago Santos||Middleweight||Santos by unanimous decision (29-27x2, 29-28)|
|Sage Northcutt vs. Cody Pfister||Lightweight||Northcutt by submission (guillotine, second round)|
|Jim Miller vs. Michael Chiesa||Lightweight||Chiesa by submission (rear-naked choke, second round)|
|Rose Namajunas vs. Paige VanZant||Strawweight||Namajunas by submission (rear-naked choke, fifth round)|
Curran Grabs First UFC Win
After two near-misses against VanZant and Alex Chambers, Kailin Curran earned her first UFC win with a submission victory over Emily Kagan. Curran had to overcome Kagan's smothering style, but in the second round she took her opponent's back and wouldn't let go of the choke.
After the win, Curran was moved to tears almost immediately, and Sherdog.com loved it:
Curran gets the back in a scramble, gets her hooks in, finishes the RNC. Curran wins, bursts into tears. Emotional, lovely scene. #UFCVegas2015-12-11 00:06:59
Hot Chocolate Burns
Danny "Hot Chocolate" Roberts made a smashing UFC debut. He used Nathan Coy's overzealous striking from the top position against him. The poised Brit maneuvered into position for the triangle choke and put his opponent to sleep in an impressive performance.
The UFC tweeted this congratulatory message to the victor:
What a debut for @DanHotChocolate! Welcome to the UFC! #UFCVegas https://t.co/NntjDhQQ782015-12-11 00:44:21
Ponzinibbio Smashes Stahl
Andreas Stahl secured two first-round takedowns, per UFC.com, but Santiago Ponzinibbio landed a huge right hand that put an end to his night.
Fox Sports: UFC tweeted acknowledgement of Ponzinibbio's KO victory:
FOX Sports: UFC @UFCONFOX
Vicious right hand from Santiago Ponzinibbio puts Andreas Stahl down and out! Wow #UFCVegas2015-12-11 01:01:20
The win was a great bounce-back performance for Ponzinibbio after losing by TKO to Lorenz Larkin in June.
Sterling Shines in Win over Eduardo
In case you didn't know, Aljamain Sterling is a rising star in mixed martial arts. Per Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, the 26-year-old bantamweight wasn't sure what to call himself after he choked out Johnny Eduardo in the second round on Thursday:
Kevin Iole @KevinI
Sterling: I'm a freaking viper, baby, a human anaconda2015-12-11 01:31:14
With the possibility of Sterling hitting the free-agent market looming, MMAFighting.com clearly believes the UFC should re-sign Sterling:
Sterling, 26, is a free agent after this fight. Undefeated with finishes over Mizugaki and Eduardo. Charismatic. Open up the pocketbook.2015-12-11 01:34:33
Moraes Ices Akhmedov
In a fight he was clearly losing through two-plus rounds, Sergio Moraes landed a titanic right hand on Omari Akhmedov's chin. The Russian crumpled against the cage, and Moraes blitzed him with a barrage of punches.
The referee would jump in to stop the assault. As Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting pointed out, this is Moraes' second big finishing win over a major opponent.
Luke Thomas @SBNLukeThomas
Sergio Moraes has wins over Neil Magny and now Omari Akhmedov. Two finishing wins, to boot. MMA rocks.2015-12-11 02:20:52
The 34-year-old Brazilian might be one to watch in the future.
Means Smashes Howard with Filthy Left Hook
Tim "Dirty Bird" Means is one of the welterweight division's best strikers. He proved that with a devastating left hook that knocked John Howard out cold. How sure was Means that he had tranquilized Howard with the punch?
Check out this quote from Means via MMA Fighting's Shaheen Al-Shatti's tweet:
Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti
Tim Means on his crazy Howard KO: "I heard him snoring before he hit the ground, so I knew I had him."2015-12-11 03:36:04
Means fell short in his last fight against Matt Brown. Per the UFC Fight Pass broadcast, Means called Brown out in an effort to avenge one of his past losses.
He'll be tough out no matter who he faces.
Santos Shocks Theodorou
In one of the best fights of the night, the underrated Thiago Santos came up with the biggest win of his career. He handed Elias Theodorou the first loss of his professional career.
Per Odds Shark, Theodorou was the favorite, but it was an upset called here. Santos' outstruck Theodorou 52-28, and he showed excellent takedown defense. He made Theodorou pay in the clinch whenever he tried to control him with grappling.
Hard knees to the head and midsection were the biggest scoring strikes. Jiu-jitsu artist Steve Grossi tweeted this image of the battered Theodorou.
Steven Grossi @SteveOGrossi
That's one hell of a cut. #UFCVegas #UFCFightNight https://t.co/WTysDpPrwf2015-12-11 03:34:12
Santos deserves a shot at a Top 10 opponent after this win, and Theodorou should get credit for his toughness. He took a beating in the third round and could have folded, but he didn't.
Northcutt Submits Pfister
Sage Northcutt continues to impress. The 19-year-old sensation had little issues with Cody Pfister en route to a second-round submission win.
After the bout, things got weird. Northcutt thanked Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, per the UFC Fight Pass broadcast. He also seemingly cut a promo for UFC Fight Pass and then asked fans to google the Bible verse John 3:16. It felt rehearsed and forced. Here's a look at the interview:
As awkward as he can be, there's no doubting his talent. He's a great athlete who has two UFC wins under his belt before his 20th birthday.
Follow Brian Mazique on Twitter.